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Which YouTube ARGs Should Be Given the Film Treatment Next?

ARGs — alternate reality games — have only ever exploded in popularity with the mass adoption of the internet. As an interactive form of storytelling that becomes shaped by the involvement of real-life interactions, ARGs have increasingly utilized social media and content-hosting sites as a means to tell genuinely intriguing narratives. It’s done so in a way that traditional films and shows simply can’t replicate. In the horror genre specifically, ARGs have exploded into entire communities, with each one attempting to stitch together haunting narratives from the comfort of their homes.

It was announced recently that a particularly notable YouTube ARG, The Backrooms, is now set to become a feature film. It’s not entirely unexpected. The horror genre has seen tremendous success in recent years, particularly through the creation of “elevated” horror films and broader experimentation with the genre. Overall, experimental horror films seem to be slowly entering the limelight, more so after the incredible financial success of Skinamarink. But while The Backrooms is still in its early stages of development, we’re left wondering what other YouTube horror ARGs deserve a feature film treatment.

Daisy Brown is an intriguing horror ARG following a young woman named Daisy. Instead of taking time to build up a tense atmosphere, the series opts to jump right into its horrifying subject. From as early as the first episode, it’s revealed that Daisy is currently the caretaker of a monstrous creature named Alan — a blind, fetus-like being that subsists on sugar. As the series continues, Alan eventually begins to grow while gaining the ability to speak, revealing a darker side to the unsettling creature in tandem with Daisy’s investigation into his origins.

Related: What Horror ARGs Could Be Next From Adult Swim?

It’s an intriguing premise that could be translated into a feature film with relative ease. It would certainly benefit from a higher budget and more slick production. Despite Alan’s monstrous visage, his grown-up appearance resembles that of a Muppet that was wrung through a paper shredder. His younger self is more unsettling in comparison. Thankfully, the story focuses more on Daisy than Alan himself, telling a horrifying tale with themes of domestic abuse and mental illness taking center stage.

The Mandela Catalogue, originally created by Alex Kister, tells a story with similar beats to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. However, instead of gross pods or screeching faces, The Mandela Catalogue goes for something far more subtly sinister.

A story told across a variety of different perspectives, government-sponsored instructional tapes, and corrupted cartoons, The Mandela Catalogue follows an in-media-res invasion by a group of creatures called “alternates.” These alternates take on the appearances of existing humans, all while utilizing psychological warfare to coerce their targets into committing suicide. As the series progresses, it’s suggested that these alternates are actually demons under the control of the devil himself, who disguises his true visage as the Archangel Gabriel.

It’s an incredibly popular series whose production values have only increased since its initial creation. The unique way alternates attack their victims is one that allows for a litany of terrifying scenarios, each one being able to work as a film by itself.

Hiimarymary is an intriguing series, not only because of its content but for the lengths it went in convincing its audience that it’s real. It’s a deeply intimate story surrounding a single character, Mary, as she’s stuck in a house with no recollection of how she got there. Her needs are taken care of, but despite having access to the internet, Mary finds that she’s unable to communicate with anyone. She takes to documenting her experience in an effort to finally understand what’s going on, but strange happenings start to plague her life once night falls.

Related: Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies & the Internet Shows Very Real Dangers

Taking place over YouTube and Twitter, Hiimarymary primarily tackles mental health, as it’s suggested that the strange things occurring at night are manifestations of Mary’s internal struggles. Throughout the entire series, Mary’s face is purposefully hidden or obscured, allowing the audience to place themselves in her shoes until she ultimately confronts her negative emotions. There’s no dramatic finale. Instead, her conflict is resolved in a way that feels genuinely realistic and comforting.

Gemini Home Entertainment focuses more on cosmic horror, featuring a strange planet between the orbits of Neptune and Pluto influencing events on Earth. This influence is seen in a series of terrifying instructional videos that deal with a variety of topics, from strange creatures infesting nature, to diseases that turn the body’s tendons into gnarled roots. In addition to a series of video shorts, Gemini Home Entertainment also utilized a video game that incorporates multiple elements from the overarching narrative, specifically taking place in the campgrounds of Moonlight Acres.

Cosmic horror has gotten a lot more attention in recent years, and for good reason: the threat of something beyond human understanding or reason, with little to no escape from it, is absolutely nightmarish. Between body horror, the fear of the unknown, and the corruption of familiar and nostalgic visuals, Gemini Home Entertainment offers plenty of material for a feature film adaptation.



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